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Start-Ups

Determining Your Core Values

By Barbara Beauregard   |    October 5, 2015   |    7:07 AM

You own a startup which has developed an idea for a product or service to offer, but something is missing! Your business won't truly be formed until you establish your core values. This article will allow you to assess your core values according to what you and other stakeholders feel is important.

Firstly, before you determine the core values for your startup, you need to decide whether you are ready to run a values-based company. This involves a commitment that entails going beyond revenue and profit to establish a company foundation based on personal belief. Core values can comprise a vital asset for your startup; they go beyond strategies, trends and figures, as they extend into the long term, giving meaning to what you do, not only for you, your staff but also your clients. Core values can inspire your staff to pursue excellence.

Secondly, you need to work out what your personal values are. What deeply-held beliefs do you have about the right way of doing things? What have been the highs and lows of your life? What core values were important at these moments? What behaviours can you not tolerate? What do you feel is worth living and working for?

For the success of your startup, it's important not only to determine your core values but also to ascertain those of other staff. Get together with the people whom you feel are vital for the future success of your startup, such as other company principals, managers, influencers and key members of staff to brainstorm. Find out which values are significant for them. Here are a few examples of values to inspire you:

- we treat customers, partners and employees with dignity and respect

- everyone should share in company success

- we pursue excellence in everything that we do and go above expectations

The next step is to compare and combine the core values. Assemble a small team to analyze the values collected at the brainstorming session. Which ones do you all agree on? Which of them are inspirational? Do some overlap, essentially referring to the same core values? Once you have selected eight to ten important core values, get together with your startup's staff. Ask them whether they feel these core values represent the company well and find out if anything is missing. In particular, talk to those whom you believe represent your startup culture, examining whether what you admire about those employees is covered by your core values. Remember you can’t make everyone happy. There may be some values that just didn't fit into your list.

Next you need to test your commitment to your core values. Would you be willing to hire and fire people based on how well they fit into your core values? When hiring new employees in line with core values, what questions will you ask them to ensure they represent your core values?

Now you have established your core values it is time to roll them out to the whole company. You will find that a unifying set of core values inspires your employees so that they feel part of a team committed to excellence.